Charcoal Drawings

Charcoal drawings are beautifully dramatic images characterised by smoky and rich tones of black and grey. Produced by a charcoal instrument which offers great levels of flexibility to the artist, the images are often extremely high contrast as well as being visually bold and highly emotive. The softness of the material and its ability to be smudged allows for the creation of large, gestural works, however not at the expense of finer details which may still be achieved through the use of compressed charcoal pencils which are sharpened to a point. The medium is clearly deeply versatile which allows for a great deal of expression within the art form.…

Whether you’re a seasoned charcoal drawing enthusiast looking to expand your collection or simply curious about the medium, we at Rise Art are here to help you buy art online. We have a range of charcoal drawings within our vast catalogue and are here to guide you through the process of purchasing the piece that is perfect for you.

History of Charcoal Drawings

The artistic genre dates back as far as 23,000 BCE when charred sticks of wood were used to draw images of people and animals on cave walls in many cultures, such as Aboriginal Australians and sub-Saharan African tribes. In more recent times, charcoal has been used primarily as a means of producing studies and initial drawings to aid with more complicated paintings which would be executed later on. Its incredible versatility and ease of manipulation meant that it became the favoured media for artists to use when experimenting with form and composition. However, the material has increased significantly in prestige since artists discovered techniques which allowed it to remain ‘fixed’ during the Renaissance period. It was during the latter half of the 19th century that charcoal drawings became recognised as standalone works of art in their own right and human beings become immensely popular as subjects of the genre. Nowadays charcoal drawing is recognised as a prestigious art form and is taught in almost every art school.

Techniques of Charcoal Drawing

Charcoal is often praised for its ability to create hyperrealistic images, but such images make up only a fraction of the forms of charcoal drawing which are highly well received today. While such drawings make use of charcoals ability to smudge and blend well, others rely heavily on its ability to produce striking bold lines. In all forms of charcoal drawing, technique plays a pivotal role.

The most popular techniques in the art form include hatching, rubbing and lifting. Hatching involves the use of short, parallel lines that appear to meld together from a distance to form an image, while cross-hatching is a similar process involves two sets of hatching sections laid on top of one another in order to portray shadows and gradients in tone. Rubbing is the technique in which the artist rubs charcoal dust onto the surface to produce a clean line of colour, it is often repeated multiple times to darken an area of a piece. The technique of lifting features the artist using an eraser to remove sections of charcoal, leading to the creation of highlight within the image which helps to bring out its depth.

As well as the traditional use of black charcoal which produces images of varying shades of white, black and grey, some artists choose to work in pastel coloured charcoals. Some opt for the use of a single pastel coloured charcoal in combination with heavy use of traditional black charcoal to add a pop of monochromatic colour to an otherwise greyscale image.

Famous Charcoal Drawing Artists

Albrecht Dürer is considered by many to be the pioneer of the charcoal medium. It was he who championed the use of charcoal drawings as works of art in their own right and not merely as preparatory drawings. The amount of detail Dürer was able to create in his imagery was incredibly impressive and went on to influence artists for centuries. There are also a number of impressive charcoal drawings created by prevailing painters such as Female Head by Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas’ Woman Bathing in a Shallow Tub.

Contemporary Charcoal Drawing

At Rise, our catalogue includes the work of many artists who continue to pursue the use of charcoal drawings as a standalone art form of its own. Take a look at the work of Lee Ellis who has developed an exceptionally distinctive, unusual style and his use of dark and brooding charcoal textures creates pieces which force us to look at his subjects in a new light. Also not to be missed is Renata Fernandez. She is an example of an artist who masterfully uses charcoal media to produce hyperrealitstic images, her incredible series of charcoal drawings depicting various tropical plants will astound you.

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